ele·gi·ac | \ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ək, -ˌak also i-ˈlē-jē-ˌak\
variants: or less commonly elegiacal \ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ə-kəl \

Definition of elegiac 

1a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feet

b(1) : written in or consisting of elegiac couplets

(2) : noted for having written poetry in such couplets

c : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century b.c. when poetry written in such couplets flourished

2 : of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past an elegiac lament for departed youth

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Other Words from elegiac

elegiac noun
elegiacally \ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ə-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Elegiac was borrowed into English in the 16th century from the Late Latin elagiacus, which in turn derives from the Greek elegeiakos. "Elegeiakos" traces back to the Greek word for "elegiac couplet" or "elegy," which was "elegeion." It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of "elegiac" referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of "elegeion" in English is "elegy," which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

Examples of elegiac in a Sentence

the sight of an old ruined church or castle can be a pleasantly elegiac experience

Recent Examples on the Web

Good idea, since the group has the chops to shine through, and the song -- written by East 17 member Tony Mortimer, at least in part about his brother's suicide -- is a stunner, the rare boy band ballad that could accurately be described as elegiac. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest Boy Band Songs of All Time: Critics' Picks," 23 Apr. 2018 Hurt strikes a reliably elegiac note in a whiskery supporting role which, as with most of his autumnal work, elevates mediocre material by a few notches. Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Damascus Cover': Film Review," 4 July 2018 No one can complain about the lack of performances of the poetically elegiac Cello Concerto, on this occasion featuring Sol Gabetta as the graphically vivid soloist. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Dudamel untangles the strangeness of Schumann's symphonies," 29 May 2018 Bad Luck’s next show, for example, puts them alongside Sub Pop’s new-age, elegiac Tiny Vipers, soft-rock band Hoop, and Red Ribbon, whose most recent album oscillates between muted grunge-punk and tender indie-folk. Alexa Peters, The Seattle Times, "‘This is cool music’: A younger crew of Seattle jazz-informed musicians bend genres, creating their own sound," 9 July 2018 Give some time over to the quiet Americans on the way, including Winslow Homer’s elegiac painting of a sleigh disappearing over a hill. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New England museums to visit this summer and fall," 4 July 2018 In the first, elegiac version of these scenes, Fox’s memories are bucolic, all soft pop and polo shirts, and her younger self is played by Jessica Sarah Flaum, a pretty young teen-ager. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, "“The Tale,” a Wrenching and Wise Story About Sexual Abuse," 18 June 2018 Hollinghurst’s narrative orbits around the disparate fates of a father and son, but contained within its epic scope is an elegiac portrait of the inexorable power of time. Time Staff, Time, "Best Novels of 2018 So Far," 11 June 2018 Playing to 21 points in Vol. 2 versus playing timed quarters introduces a different vibe from 2K18, suffusing the basketball gaming experience with a timeless, elegiac, and joyous playground innocence. Danny Schwartz, GQ, "The Legend of NBA Street Vol. 2, the Greatest Basketball Video Game of All Time," 2 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elegiac.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elegiac

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for elegiac

Late Latin elegiacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeion

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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The first known use of elegiac was in the 15th century

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